Reggie Wayne is out for the season after he suffered a torn ACL in the Indianapolis Colts’ win over the Denver Broncos. Losing Wayne will be a huge blow to the Colts but there is talent on the roster to step up in his absence.
Andrew Luck completed 21 passes to seven different receivers. Wayne had five of those catches and he is, without a doubt, the Colts’ number one receiver. Losing him for the season will be tough but it shouldn’t be crippling because of T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Granted, neither Hilton nor Heyward-Bey are in the same category as Wayne who should be on his way to Canton once he decides to call it a career. However, they each have talent and should be able to step up in the absence of Wayne.
Hilton is in his second year and he showed his ability down the stretch last season with three one hundred yard games in his last seven. He has big play ability and can make something happen after the catch and possesses the break-away speed to leave defensive backs behind. What he lacks is the experience and he has never been the focal point of the Colts’ offense which he might be asked to be now. It will be up to Hilton to step up and show he can turn that potential into reality.
Heyward-Bey is largely considered a first round bust. However, he still has a few good seasons of football with the Oakland Raiders under his belt. He is not Wayne but he does possess the ability to stretch the field and he should have a good grasp of the offense now that he has been playing in it for seven weeks.
Tight end Coby Fleener who was a teammate of Luck’s at Stanford will also be asked to shoulder more of the load in the passing game. There is already a comfort level and trust between Luck and Fleener that now has to translate onto an NFL field. He does have the talent to have an impact in any game but he lacks the consistency, perhaps because he has been a third or fourth option in the Colts’ offense. Now, he moves up on that depth chart and he will have to deliver.
For as much as Wayne’s injury hurts the Colts are trying to mold themselves into a power running team with Trent Richardson and Donald Brown leading the way. Richardson should have a fair understanding of the offense and has the ability to be a factor in the passing game as a legitimate check-down option for Luck.
The Colts will ask several players to step up in the wake of Wayne’s injury but it will take a team effort to replace Wayne and keep the Colts’ Super Bowl hopes alive.